Lockdown has meant that many of us are spending far more time at home than we ever expected we would. We may even have found a love of indoor plants that we never knew we had, and are starting to build up a collection of live plants to beautify our interior spaces. But what about our pets? Are there any houseplants that are dangerous for pets ? This blog post takes a look at which houseplants are safe for our cats and dogs.
The benefits of indoor plants for people have been widely documented, but we don’t eat or chew our houseplants! So why do cats and dogs? Some people believe they do it to calm an upset stomach or help process hairballs, while others think pets are attempting to remedy a nutritional deficiency. Sometimes a waving leaf may even just get chewed as part of a game.
Which houseplants are dangerous for cats?
When investing in new plants for a home that has cats in it, it’s worth doing a little bit of research first because there are a number of plants that are toxic to cats should their leaves be chewed or ingested. Whilst this can be prevented by putting toxic plants out of reach, it’s probably just better to find plants that are safe to keep at home to ensure the safety of your feline fur babies.
Here is a list of 9 common houseplants that are not safe for cats. This isn’t an exhaustive list of toxic plants, but it does cover a number of popular houseplants – including the Monstera Deliciosa -which is an extremely trendy indoor plant at present and can be found in every garden centre and supermarket.
- Peace Lily
- Aloe Vera
- Monstera Deliciosa
- Pothos or Devil’s Ivy
- Jade plants
- Snake plants (Sanseveria)
- Sago Palm
- English Ivy
- Dumb Cane
The reason that many of these plants (peace lilies, monstera, pothos, and dumb cane) are dangerous for cats is that they contain insoluble calcium oxalates which if consumed, can cause vomiting, irritation of the mouth and GI tract, excessive drooling, and in severe cases, difficulty swallowing or breathing. They are only dangerous when ingested and are completely safe to touch.
Aloes may have therapeutic properties for humans, but the saponins and anthraquinones contained in aloes are toxic to cats and can cause lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhoea if ingested.
The toxic properties of Jade plants – all belonging to the family Crassula – are unknown, but what is known is that jade plants are highly toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, causing symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, depression, and in coordination if ingested.
Which houseplants are dangerous for dogs?
I’m sure it’s safe to say that many a dog-owner has found a prized possession chewed beyond recognition. When it’s your slippers or a belt it’s annoying, but if it happens to be one of these houseplants, the results could be fatal for your pooch. Here is a(not-exhaustive) list of 9 trendy houseplants that are toxic for dogs.
- Fiddle leaf fig
- ZZ Plant
- Aloe Vera
- Dumb Cane
- Sago Palm
- Peace lily
Plants such as the fiddle-leaf, philodendron, ZZ plant and dumb cane which contain insoluble calcium oxalates as mentioned above are also unsafe for dogs and cause the same reaction: oral irritation and swelling, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
Sago palms are native to the tropical regions of Japan and are popular as houseplants in their bonsai form. They contain Cycasin, which is extremely toxic to both humans and animals, causing liver failure and even death if ingested. Early symptoms of sago palm poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, and seizures. If you have a dog or cat at home, sago palms should definitely be avoided.
Common houseplants that are safe for pets:
It can be really difficult to keep a houseplant away from a pet that is determined to chew, so it’s important to ensure that any indoor plants are safe and non-toxic to cats and dogs. With the exception of edibles like cat grass, it’s always better to keep houseplants out of a pet’s reach if you can, but the plants described here are recognized by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) as being non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Here is a list of 20 indoor plants that are safe if your pet happens to chew or ingest them, including perennial favourites like the African violet, Ponytail palms, Haworthia succulents and Orchids.
And thinking of Orchids, make sure you read next week’s Mythbuster post on Orchids. We’ll be exploring the myth that Orchids are finicky and hard to grow and that once they’ve flowered you might as well throw them away.